Reptar: All Tomorrow’s (Epic) Parties

The first time I stumbled across Athens/Asheville gang Reptar, I honestly had no idea what the hell was happening. I walked into their debut EP, Oblangle Fizz, Y’all, pretty much blind, figuring that any band that named themselves after a Rugrats character was bound to be, well, goofy and quirky and not much else.

While the band most definitely does have a quirkiness to it, however, what I encountered on the EP was a full-on party-pop explosion, all sex-you-up reggaeified Horace Andy vocals, rubbery, oddly “round”-sounding basslines, skittering/thumping beats, weird electronic bits, and an overall grinning, bouncing feel. The whole thing practically shines with an bright-orange inner light all its own, sucking in chunks of ’80s pop, ’00s electronics, psych-pop, hip-hop, and Afro-Caribbean sounds and spitting out something absolutely freaking new.

As I listened, it occurred to me that it would damn near impossible to not dance to the music these guys — singer/guitarist Graham Ulicny, bassist Ryan Engelberger, drummer Andrew McFarland, and keyboardist William Kennedy — make, and going by reports of epic rave-ups throughout the band’s still-brief existence so far, it sounds like not many people can resist. Everything I’ve read makes a Reptar show sound positively mind-blowingly wild, just this joyous explosion of, well, fun, not to put too fine a point on it. My mental image of a Reptar performance has been built up to massive proportions, something the likes of which you never see in reality, only on TV or in movies.

With that in mind, I was able to chat a bit recently with Reptar’s fifth “mystery” member, videographer/artist Ross Brubeck, to see what he had to say about traveling around with the band. Brubeck does quite a few video- and art-related things, definitely, but in his not-so-free time he makes videos for his Reptar pals, one of which, for Oblangle Fizz track “Rainbounce,” was recently featured over at Rollingstone.com and has been getting the band quite a bit of attention.

On, and in between, he tours ’round the country with them, most recently on their current tour with Foster the People and Cults.

The video, for its part, melds those quirky and party-down elements together nicely, coming off less like, say, an electro-pop video and more like something done by the Animal Collective, all fractal-ish patterns and bright colors and oddball costumes and lo-tech computer graphics and, um, falling fruit (no, seriously).


 

SCR: Can you explain what do you do for the band?
Ross Brubeck: I’m in charge of the visuals. In that respect, I’m the visual component, the visual element of their performance.

Ah, okay. I didn’t know there was a separate visual thing, there? That’s cool — why kind of stuff do you do, then? I haven’t ever seen a Reptar show, so…
Well, there’s a couple of things I do on this tour and a couple of things I have done in the past, for the band. But as far as my duties on this tour, it’s to do some visual projections and the like while they’re on stage performing. There’s usually some sort of projection system that I’ll do my thing through, and just try to kind of interpret their sound visually with things that I’ve created in various programs.

I’m also keeping a diary, a video diary of the tour. We’re going to be putting a new, I dunno, “issue” of it every week for the eight weeks that we’re going to be on the road.

Is it going to be on the Website, or what?
I’m not sure how… It’ll probably be posted on the Website; there’s also talk of it being syndicated by some third party, somewhere on the Internet. But yeah, we’ll initially probably just publish it ourselves — put it up on a Vimeo, put it up on the blog, Facebook, all that.

You did the video for “Rainbounce” that was on Rolling Stone, right?
Yeah, that was me.

I liked it a lot; that was neat.
Ah, thank you.

It was not exactly what I was expecting, but it was cool.
You said it wasn’t what you were expecting?

Not really, no. I dunno… I thought it’d be more like, y’know, wild party visuals or something, from the album. It was a lot more kind of mellow and sort of quirky, I guess, than I was thinking it was gonna be.
Right, right. I’m glad to have subverted some expectations on that one.

I was curious, actually, what you guys’ shows are like, in general. I mean, I’ve got this image in my head of ’em being kind of insane parties, really.
Yeah! Well, yeah — you’re pretty much right about that.

Any crazy, memorable ones so far?
Well, we’ve actually only done one show so far on this tour. Although in the past there’ve been some very, very memorable shows.

There’s a venue in Athens that’s just opened up again in August, and Reptar played one of the shows in this sort of inaugural week. And yeah, it was a pretty phenomenal experience. I was up onstage with my computer, in the background doing projections, and I just remember every time looking up, seeing the audience just in unison — it was packed, the theater was sold out, and I just remember seeing the audience in unison, moving with the music. Just so energetic, just a single beast out there.

And that’s sort of par for the course for the shows Reptar plays. It’s not hard, once the music starts, to get the crowd moving.

It’s definitely hard to avoid wanting to dance when you listen to it, yeah.
Yeah; it’s very moving.

I’d forgotten that this was only the second day of the tour; so you’re playing Dallas tonight?
We’re heading to the second show — we’ve actually been on the road for close to a week, now. Just because we had to drive from Georgia.

Oh, yeah. That’s a good point.
Yeah, so we drove out to Scottsdale yesterday, just to meet up with Cults and Foster the People and then kinda doing the hairpin turn and going back and hitting all of the places that we were passing by earlier. So we’re headed to Dallas next.

And y’all are going to be playing ACL after that, right?
Yep. Yeah, we certainly are.

Are you psyched about that?
Yeah… It’s kind of a shame; I dunno. It’s nice playing these big festivals like this, but it’s also a little frustrating, in a way, because there’s never an opportunity to really experience the festival farther than, y’know, our own performance in it. I remember being at Lollapalooza, and I didn’t see a single act at Lollapalooza.

Seriously?
Yeah. I saw the band before us, they were great, and then Reptar came on, and after that there were a couple of hours where we were in the press area, doing interview after interview… I dunno. It’s partially because I wasn’t very interested in seeing Muse, and Coldplay, and Bright Eyes. [laughs] No offense, if you’re into any of those bands.

There’s a lot more to do, even after the performance itself is over. I really want to see Stevie Wonder — he’s one of my idols, kind of — but I’m not going to be able to.

That’s a shame. I’ve never been in a band that’s played any kind of festival or anything, but I just always assumed that, hey, once you’re done playing, you go and party, and then hang out and watch other bands. Sounds like that’s not always the case.
It’s also kind of funny, because probably we’ll see Cults and Foster the People, y’know, 30 times, 25 to 30 times over the next month. Which is fine — I like their music a lot — but that’s not… I don’t actually know where I’m going with this, I’m sorry. [laughs]

I don’t want to get you in trouble saying anything bad about your tourmates.
[laughs] Actually, we hung out with ’em last night; we hung out for a long time last night. They’re surprisingly personable — very fun to be around. So I’m stoked. I’m glad we’re going to be sharing this next month of our lives with them.

Going to be in close quarters for a while there…
Yeah, we are. They’ve got at least four different tour buses, so…

So, do you have input when it comes to the songwriting stuff? Or is that mostly the other guys?
That’s not my realm; that’s not my domain. Yeah, I’m around when it happens, but it’s not exactly where I have influence.

I was just curious, because I remember reading about a full-length followup to the EP.
Yep. They’re going to get underway with that as soon as the tour’s over, pretty much.

Oh, okay — you haven’t started yet?
There’s plenty of material for it, but no actual recording started. Apparently it’s going to go underway as soon as this tour’s finished, in November. The middle of November.

I’m looking forward to it; I love the EP.
Yeah! I’m looking forward to hearing it, too.

I guess being in the position you’re in, you’re like the the-biggest-fan kind of guy.
[laughs] Yeah; I’m sort of like the First Lady, or something. END

[Reptar is playing 9/17/11 at the House of Blues, along with Foster the People & Cults.]

Interview by . Interview posted Saturday, September 17th, 2011. Filed under Features, Interviews.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Reptar: All Tomorrow’s (Epic) Parties”

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: Reptar (Interviewed!) + Jet Lounge Anniversary + White Crime + Mikey & The Drags + More on January 15th, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    […] Oh, and we had a chance to talk with Ross Brubeck, the band’s visual-effects guy and videographer, the other day about the band’s current tour, the diffculties of playing festivals, and a bunch of other stuff; check that out here… […]

  2. SPACE CITY ROCK » Tonight: Don’t Be Me; Go See Reptar on June 28th, 2012 at 11:29 am

    […] Y’all might recall that back in September I ranted & raved about Asheville/Athens band Reptar, quite possibly comparing them to the invention of the wheel, sliced bread, etc. Heck, I was even able to chat a bit with Ross Brubeck, visual-effects/video guy for the band, over here. […]

  3. SPACE CITY ROCK » Tomorrow Night: Reptar @ Fitz (Plus Free Download!) on June 3rd, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    […] with sharp memory skills may recall that at several points this past year, yours truly has ranted & raved about Reptar, this crazy, wild, party-the-fuck-down gang that hails from […]

Leave a Reply


H-Town Mixtape

Upcoming Shows

Categories

Archives

Recent Posts

Links

Our Sponsors